September 28, 2009, 11:55 AM — Google's Global Product Manager for the Google Search Appliance, Cyrus Mistry, spoke with Computerworld Australia editor, Trevor Clarke, about enterprise search and why it is a different game to Web search
What is enterprise search and how does it differ from Web search?
Cyrus Mistry (CM): This is exactly why enterprise search was created because there are differences. I would love to say Google has been brilliant and we were just going to create this enterprise search product, but it didn't work that way. We got the question probably 150 times before we did it from CEOs and CIOs asking, can't they just have Google for their company. You've probably heard people say, 'Why can't we just have Google?'. We of course looked and said we only have Web search and there are differences.
So first of all, search algorithms, meaning ranking functions are going to be different. In the Web, you put out a fantastic article and 40,000 people blog about it. That is going to really help your article and relevance. But within a company I am guessing you don’t have 40,000 internal wikis and blogs pointing to that document. So rankings have to be optimised differently, that is the first thing.
The second thing is, we couldn't answer this call of enterprise search until we addressed the security issue. So you get access to these 50 documents but the CEO gets access to pay roll information as well. So making sure that when you do a search you see everything you are authorised to see, but others only see what they are authorised to see. So we had to kind of make sure we had that airtight security. Then finally we had to address the big question, which they had on 'Can't we just have Google?'. What did they mean by that? When we asked, they generally mean they wanted the same easy to use interface. And number two they wanted the results really fast. That required some work. One of the reasons Web is so fast is because we can massively parralise the work across hundreds of thousands of servers at Google. You can't do that necessarily at Computerworld or TV New Zealand or whoever.
If all the content to be indexed was publicly available, what difference would there be between using a GSA and 'site:' search?
There is a big difference. Many people don't even know the 'site:' thing – I would say maybe one in probably 10,000 people know what it is. The problem with 'site:' is a couple of things. The first one is a lot of people have publicly available content and it's all public. If you have any kind of extranet content, a partner that logs in to see information, or maybe visa.com or discover.com and people can go and see their information, that would not be searchable because we couldn't get to it. Number two, you are at the mercy of Google. If they feel like crawling you they will. If you are CNN.com we are going to crawl you pretty frequently.